Thru my journey of consulting on nutrition, the weigh-in often a large point of contention for some of my clients. Some clients hate the scale, and see it as having some sort of special power that decides on their work ethic. Others weigh in daily and are often perplexed at how their weight fluctuates on a daily basis. Others weigh in on semi-regular intervals, Monday morning one week, Saturday midday another, and they too are often not too happy with what the scale says. The purpose of this article is to help you create a simple structure to follow for weighing yourself that will by pass the issues above. No longer will you be “not sure” if your plan is working. You’ll have clear cut, defined results, an accurate weigh in each and every time, and you will be certain that what you are doing in the kitchen is working for your goals. When it comes to weighing in, we have a few factors we want to consider:
- What day to weigh in.
- When during the day to weigh in.
- How often to weigh in.
- What to use to weigh in.
- What to do with our results
The first order of business is to pin point a few issues that people have who weigh in randomly.
The body retains water, and sheds water rather quickly
For this reason alone, you can easily get wild fluctuations of plus or minus 6 lbs!!! The reason is that the body is able to hold onto a fair amount of water. This results in wild fluctuations in bodyweight depending on your previous carbohydrate intake, and water retention. Your liver and muscle can retain a combined 500g of glycogen. Each gram of glycogen can then hold in 3-4 grams of water. This means if our body is completely stored with glycogen, we can have 500g+2000g=2.5kg of carbs and water weight. Keep in mind, this is for a 170lb person. So body size definitely matters and the bigger you are, the more weight you’ll be able to hold. If you are carb loaded or depleted a 12lb weight fluctuation can happen pretty damn quick. Imagine being on a fat loss diet and discovering you gained 12lbs in a day or two! Definitely not the results you’d be looking for, and yet this could happen with no actual fat gain.
Special considerations for females
Females have it even worse than dudes. The reason being that during the menstrual cycle, their hormones like to go a little bit nutty and this can also have big effects on water retention. For this reason, weighing in, especially within a few days before their period begins can be incredibly inaccurate. So with these factors being said, let’s go over what we can do to by pass these issues and create ourselves a weigh in system that can be used whenever it’s needed.
What day should you weigh in on?
The answer to this is quite simple. Pick one day of the week to weigh in on, and stick with it. I don’t care if you had a great week and then screwed up the day before weigh-in. No excuses here. Pick a day, it really doesn’t matter what day it is, and weigh-in on that day. Every. Single. Week. The reason for this is simple. Most people tend to have a somewhat similar energy intake from day-to-to. The biggest areas of concern are usually on the weekends. For this reason, I personally like to weigh-in on Monday morning. If your diet is the same Monday-Sunday, then this isn’t a problem, and you can literally pick any day of the week!
When during the day should you weigh yourself?
You will want to weigh in at the same time of day every week as well. This is important. You want to make sure your routine leading up to weighing yourself is the same every week. If you choose Monday, you don’t want to weigh in Monday fasted one week, then Monday after eating 5 meals the next week. Clearly your results will be skewed an inaccurate. You don’t necessarily have to have a time of day to weigh in here. You do need to have the daily routine tho. This means:
- You urinate and take a dump before or after weighing in every week
- You weigh yourself fasted every week
- You weigh yourself with the same clothes, or nude every week
- You weigh yourself before ingesting any liquids every week
- Noticing a pattern of consistency here?
The simple heuristic I like to use is to wake up, go straight to the bathroom, get nude, and weigh yourself, then get on with your day. Pretty simple when it comes down to it.
How often should you weigh yourself?
This ties into the last questions, but generally you are perfectly fine weighing yourself once a week. If you like doing it daily, take the same strategy laid out above. Just understand, if you are a person who weighs in everyday, but has some emotional attachment to the results of what the scale says, you are most likely setting yourself up for failure. If you just like to know and can go on for the rest of the day and not think about it (no matter what the scale says) then weigh-in regularly. I still recommend a weekly weigh-in as this gives you and your coach (if applicable) the necessary information needed to move forward.
What implement or implements should you use to weigh in?
Some people will weigh in some days on a scale in their bathroom. On other days, they use the electronic scale at their gym. Then they’ll get on the old school balance scale. They get annoyed at how their numbers are always different and blame it on water retention or their lack of dietary adherence. Like I’ve been hammering away over and over again in this article, everything should remain identical when it comes to the weigh-in. We are looking to get rid of any variable, which can decrease the accuracy of our “test.” Using different measuring tools is something that you should absolutely stay away from. Whether you use a scale at home or elsewhere, use only that scale moving forward. Don’t even step onto another one. What to do with your results? This is where you can actually utilize the results you are getting from your weigh-ins to make decisions to help you move towards whatever your goal may be. Let’s pretend we have someone looking to lose fat and maintain their strength levels. I like to keep things simple here: Has your weight moved: Up/Down/Maintained Down: keep doing what you’re doing Maintained: either you need to increase adherence, or slight reduction in calorie intake Up: either you need to increase adherence, or reduction in calorie intake It’s really that simple. If you are following a structured plan for changing your diet, the scale is used as a tool to determine what you should be doing next. If you are adhering to the plan, and you know that you are getting all your meals in, all your macros and calories are where they need to be, then you know that your diet plan needs to be tweaked (in terms of macros) If your weight is the same or has gone up, and you know you haven’t been following the plan, you know that adherence is the problem. You need to work on strategies to increase adherence to the plan you have set. This is the area that most people will falter.
Do you have an adversarial relationship with your scale? You hop on, and you see the number and it just ruins your day, or even week because it’s always moving around and not always in the directiont that you want?
I want to show you a few simple steps you can take to weight yourself more accurately each week so that you know that your diet/exercise plan is doing what its supposed to. The scale should be seen as an objective tool to track progress. It’s an inanimate object, it shouldn’t have power over your and control your emotions. So let’s use it for what’s its meant to be used for and then re-assess our strategy if the scale isn’t moving in the right direction!
1. Weigh yourself at the same time of the day, on the same day. Every week. 2. Whatever bathroom habits you do before you weight in, do them the same EVERY time. 3. If you obssess over the scale changing on a daily basis, don’t weight yourself everyday. Pick a day of the week, and do it then.
How to weight yourself.